That (sales) figures.

GalleyCat continues its coverage of the coverage of the Cussler trial. For those not following the case, the film producer of Sahara, based on Clive Cussler’s book of the same name, claims that Cussler lied about his sales figures in order to get $10 million out of him for the rights to the book. When the film bombed the producers discovered that Cussler didn’t have the 100 million sales he claimed. They are suing over that “lie.”
Only problem is, it seems that that “lie” is a how the industry works:

Interestingly, Cussler’s real sales figure amount to roughly half of what he’s claimed – a by-product, Cussler testified earlier in a deposition, of an edict handed down by his agent in the late 1990s never to say how many books he sold because the amount was not known. Instead, Cussler said, he was advised to use the phrase “books in print.” So a word to the wise, especially new GalleyCat readers: anytime you see a “books in print” figure, downscale it by half, maybe even more, to get the real story…

I find this interesting and a little sad, especially in an era of POD, when a publisher could print only what was needed. How often have you picked up a book and seen “Over a million copies in print” on the cover? How many of those copies were actually read? Sales figures are an issue. They keep the relationship between authors and publishers working, but if no one really knows what those figures are, what does that say about the authors who are touting figures to sell books?

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